15,000 fish killed in suspected chemical poisoning in Tipperary

Published by Manus Boyle on

July 19th, 2018

Almost 15,000 fish are confirmed to have been killed in a suspected chemical poisoning in County Tipperary.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has launched an investigation into the incident which occurred along a 5km stretch of the Ollatrim River last week.

Among the estimated 14,749 fish found dead last week, 10,500 were lamprey, a protected species whose numbers are expected to take years to recover.

“The cause appears to have been a chemical agent, possibly a herbicide or pesticide, which has now passed through the system,” said Inland Fisheries.

The species affected include brown trout, lamprey, Stoneloach, Minnow, Salmon, Crayfish and Stickleback.

IFI immediately conducted an inquiry into the discovery of the fish kill which is believed to have occurred last weekend. The incident was reported by locals who observed dead fish on Saturday evening.

IFI has appealed to the public and the farming community to exercise caution when using herbicides or pesticides because the chemicals are “extremely toxic” to all aquatic species and fish in particular.

They advised that when mixing chemicals, washing or using spraying equipment for any purpose, particular care must be taken to ensure that the rinsing of equipment does not take place near any water body or watercourse including small drains. Any washing must be carried out in a manner that will not pollute the waters.

They cautioned that any mixing of chemicals must be done far from natural watercourses, especially in the current conditions when diluting waters are in short supply, therefore increasing the toxicity of the chemical.

Oliver Moore, a lecturer at the UCC Centre for Co-operative Studies, expressed his concern over the incident.

“If big hardy fish like salmon and trout have been killed by this chemical spill, imagine the impact on smaller aquatic life? Meanwhile, the lakes have been full of swimmers with the good weather,” he said.

The incident occurred as new data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that many rivers are at or approaching record low levels.

Results from 194 monitoring stations across rivers, lakes and groundwater sources show that 56 per cent of gauges, or 108, are approaching record lows.

The low water levels led IFI to issue an appeal to anglers to stop fishing for salmon as the recent hot weather and drought conditions are putting additional strain on marine life.

The investigation to identify the source of the killings is continuing this week.

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Manus Boyle

Manus is an MA Journalism student at DCU. He has an interest in the environment, the outdoors and live music.